PokerStars Announces New Jersey Launch Date: March 21, 2016

The long awaited return of PokerStars to the U.S. is almost over.  The company announced today that it will launch in New Jersey on March 21, 2016.  A testing period will begin earlier in the month involving beta play by select participants.

The Full Tilt brand will join PokerStars in New Jersey.  Both will operate under the Resorts interactive gaming license.

PokerStars New Jersey grand opening promotions

PokerStars New Jersey will use the domain  There are two promotions mentioned on this page.  Players that had a PokerStars account before Black Friday may keep their username and have the same password.  Once reactivated, the account will be credited with a VIP status based on previous action.  StarsCoins, once referred to as Frequent Player Points, will also be credited based on play on the platform before Black Friday.

PokerStars New Jersey will hold a $25,000 freeroll on its first Sunday online; March 27.  First prize is $5,000.  Players must be in New Jersey to participate and the account must be created before the tournament starts.

Same software, different player pools

The software used by PokerStars in New Jersey will match the one offered by the company in other markets.  A desktop and mobile platform will be available.  New Jersey players will be a ring-fenced pool, much like ones in Spain, France and Italy.

A special Sunday tournament will be spread each week.  The popular Spin & Go lottery-style sit and gos will be included in the PokerStars New Jersey lobby.  In addition to poker, casino games will be available.  This includes baccarat, roulette, blackjack, video poker and slots.

PokerStars will enter the New Jersey market 28 months after its competitors.  The company missed the November 21, 2013 launch of the state’s regulated interactive gaming industry because its license application was suspended due to unresolved legal issues surrounding the company related to Black Friday.  Rational Group, former parent company of PokerStars, was acquired by Amaya Gaming in 2014.  The PokerStars brand was approved by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in September 2015.

Mixed Bag For The Boardwalk: Online Up, Land-Based Down At NJ Casinos

Atlantic City land-based casinos posted another negative month in June from the previous year. The eight remaining Atlantic City casinos posted a win of $204.9 million in June, down 9.5 percent from 2014.

Internet gaming generated $11.7 million in poker rake and casino win in June. That was up 22.8 percent from the previous year. Internet casino win was $9.8 million, up 31.9 percent from the previous year.

Borgata maintained its stranglehold

As usual, Borgata was the top Atlantic City casino in June. Borgata revenue came in at $56.7 million, which accounted for 28 percent of the entire Atlantic City gaming market. Borgata was up 17.8 percent over 2014.

The biggest winner in June on a percentage basis was Golden Nugget, up 19.6 percent. Resorts posted a 19.2 percent gain. Harrah’s, the only other Atlantic City casino to improve upon the previous year, was up 7.3 percent.

Trump Taj Mahal continued its slump. The one-time Atlantic City flagship was down 23.5 percent from the previous year.

The decline may be attributed to the bad press surrounding the property’s bankruptcy. Caesars, Bally’s, and Tropicana posted single-digit losses.

New Jersey online gambling June results

Five Atlantic City casinos operate online casinos under their licenses. The four that operated in 2014 were all up over the previous year.

Borgata and its partner Party Poker were the biggest winners in New Jersey last month. The two sites won $3.5 million. Most of that action came from the Borgata skins.

Poker raked $950,000. That was down 12 percent from the previous year. Casino games won 8 percent more in June compared to the previous year for a total of $2.6 million.

Caesars Interactive is the only other New Jersey site that still offers poker. Caesars poker raked $885,000 in June, down 6 percent from the previous year. Casinos under the Caesars Interactive umbrella – including 888, Caesars, and Harrah’s – won $1.75 million in June, up 6 percent over the previous year.

Golden Nugget held steady with NJ online casino

The largest Internet gaming winner in June on a percentage basis was Golden Nugget.

It posted a win of $2.5 million in June, up 255 percent from last year. This massive gain can be attributed to an improvement in business, as well as the inclusion of Betfair under the Golden Nugget license. Betfair operated under the Trump Plaza license in 2014, until that property closed for good.

Tropicana continued its success in the New Jersey regulated casino market. The company licenses online casinos under its brand and Virgin. The pair won $2.56 million in June, up 48.3 percent.

Resorts did not operate an online casino in 2014. It won $400,600 in June.

Image Sean Pavone /

Lesniak, Whelan Write Letter to House Urging Defeat of RAWA

Two New Jersey state senators that are instrumental in expanding gambling in New Jersey wrote members of the U.S. House this week urging federal lawmakers to defeat the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA).  New Jersey State Senators Ray Lesniak and Jim Whelan signed the letter that was obtained by John Brennan at Meadowlands Matters.

The letter asks U.S. House members to defeat HR 707.  This bill would strip New Jersey of its right to regulate and legalize online gambling, a business it entered in November 2013.

Not only would this bill do nothing to curb unlawful online gaming, it would push dangerous black market vendors further into the shadows, putting adult consumers and children at even greater risk.

The letter goes on to state that RAWA does the opposite of its alleged intent:

In fact, the best way to deter dangerous criminal activity – including fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing – is to establish a well-regulated online gaming industry like the ones that have been implemented in New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada, as well as in many other jurisdictions in North America and around the world.

Lesniak and Whelan content that Congress already resolved this issue in 2006 and that New Jersey would lose important tax revenue and suffer economic loss if RAWA became law.

Atlantic City Bankruptcy History

More closures have been occurring for casinos in Atlantic City than openings. Atlantic Club, and soon to be Revel and Showboat, are examples of this.

This year is looking like it may be the worst ever for Atlantic City.

It lost Atlantic Club in January, Showboat is scheduled to close in August, and Revel may not even make it through the summer without a buyer.

This is not the first time Atlantic City casinos have fallen on hard times. Even during good economies, some resorts struggled to post a profit.

Atlantic City Past Closures

Atlantic Club was the most recent Atlantic City casino to close. It ceased operations on January 13, 2014.

It opened as the Golden Nugget in December 1980. It later became Bally’s Grand before rebranding to simply The Grand. It proceeded to be the Atlantic City Hilton but lost its affiliation in 2011 and was forced to rebrand as ACH.

In February 2012, it became Atlantic Club. This was its last name before it declared bankruptcy and closed.

The Claridge opened through financing provided by Del Webb, a Las Vegas casino owner.

It was originally built as a hotel in 1930. It was converted into a casino in July 1981. It was merged into the neighboring Bally’s property in December 2002. It was sold to TJM Properties in February 2014.

It now operates as a nongaming hotel.

Playboy Casino / Atlantis Casino / Trump

Playboy Hotel and Casino opened on April 14, 1981. The Playboy Company received a provisional gaming license but ultimately refused to permanently license Playboy. Its partner, Elsinore, was able to secure a license and moved on with the project. The name was changed to Atlantis Casino in 1984. The casino filed for bankruptcy in 1985 and lost its gaming license in 1989.

It was purchased by Donald Trump and renamed the Trump Regency. The casino was removed.

Gaming returned on May 15, 1996 and it was renamed Trump World’s Fair. The property was plagued with problems and closed on October 3, 1999. The building was razed in 2000.

Sands Atlantic City opened on August 31, 1980. It filed for bankruptcy in 1998. It was acquired by Carl Icahn and sold to Pinnacle in 2006. Pinnacle planned on building a new casino on the property. It quickly gave notice to employees and closed the property about two months after the sale was completed.

Sands was imploded on October 18, 2007. It was the first casino implosion ever in Atlantic City or anywhere else in the region.

Pinnacle Atlantic City never got off the ground. The company officially declared the project dead in 2009. The former Sands Atlantic City location is an empty lot today.

Atlantic City Casinos Set for Closure

Showboat opened on April 2, 1987. It was acquired by Caesars Entertainment, known at the time as Harrah’s, in 1998.

It was expanded in 2003 and remodeled in 2007. That was the peak era of Atlantic City. Since then, gaming revenue is down nearly 50 %. Caesars Entertainment announced that Showboat will close Aug 30, 2014.

The casino was profitable, but it appears Caesars feels they can recapture most of the lost players at its other Atlantic City casinos; Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s.

Revel is one of the biggest mistakes in gaming history.

It cost $2.4 billion to construct. It needed multiple bailouts and was forced to file for bankruptcy in its first year. It is now under a second bankruptcy filing. Employees have been given notice that the casino will close if it does not find a buyer, one that may pay less than 20 cents on the dollar.

Revel opened with the mentality of being an upscale resort that happened to have a casino. It did not offer a competitive players’ club and was known to refuse comps to high volume players.

The casino was also the first in Atlantic City to not allow smoking in its casino. These issues made it tough to draw players away from casinos that they had been loyal too for years.

Revel realized its mistakes and attempted to win players back with an improved players’ club, a smoking area, as well as a massive loss rebate program. This could not help get the casino in the black.

Bankruptcies Not Forcing Closure

Tropicana opened on November 23, 1981. On December 12, 2007, the casino lost its New Jersey gaming license due to noncompliance of gaming regulations. This forced the company into a trust that filed for bankruptcy. It was acquired by a group led by Carl Icahn. Its gaming license was reinstated in 2010.

Casinos affiliated with Donald Trump have filed for bankruptcy three times since 1991. The first came following the $1 billion construction of Trump Taj Mahal. In 2004, the company was unable to come to terms with creditors and filed bankruptcy again. Under a new name, the group once again filed for bankruptcy protection.

A 2009 bankruptcy saw Trump’s ownership in the company drop to 10 %. Half of this equity was given through a licensing agreement to use Trump’s name on the casinos. This only applies to the live casinos and not to online ones that are now available in New Jersey.

Resorts was the first casino in Atlantic City. Resorts International, its original parent company, was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1989 and again in 1994.

In December 2009, Resorts later announced that it had not paid the mortgage on the property for over a year. The casino was set to close in December 2010 when a group headed by the late Dennis Gomes saved it.